November 13, 2020

Investing in Human Capital to Promote Innovation in Healthcare

Continuous innovation in the Maternal and Newborn Child Health sector plays a crucial role in reducing maternal and neonatal mortality. As new products and services continuously crop up in the MNCH sector, human capital becomes key in implementing and scaling these innovations. However, setting up human capital structures is a challenge, especially in new organizations focused on the development of an innovation and perhaps only hiring for technical skills needed to develop the innovation.

Human capital structures become increasingly critical as organizations attempt to hire and retain the right individuals, then motivate, reward, and compensate top talent. The Accelerating Saving Lives at Birth program recognized the important role that human capital plays in the launch and scale of innovations and developed a set of best practices outlined in the ‘team’ domain under the Framing Innovations for Success framework.                                         

This framework coaches innovators on how to mentor, grow, and empower their teams even as they scale their innovations. In addition, A-SL@B developed a toolkit , which can be used as a checklist for success in setting up human capital structures. 

The toolkit outlines three levels of talent development: leadership, team, and organization. The leadership level focuses on an organization’s earliest members, who assume the roles of Chief Executive Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, and Chief Financial Officer. The team level focuses on talent needed to support leaders in developing, launching, and growing the innovation. Finally, the organizational level looks at the organization as an entity that promotes the growth of all talent. Innovators should endeavor to nurture and effectively engage talent across all three levels.


John F. Kennedy once said that leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. Innovators, as leaders of an organization, set the organization’s culture. Thus, they should continuously invest in developing themselves as they also nurture their teams’ talent. In order to align and steer employees toward an organization’s mission and vision, innovators need to understand why they develop their innovations and organizations. A ‘personal why,’ as coined by Simon Sinek, helps an innovator realize his or her unique purpose. When innovators understand their purposes, they can convey what differentiates their organizations and employees in the marketplace and how they intend to achieve their goals.